Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Not Dawes County – but Box Butte County neighbors!

This photo and information is from History Nebraska:  

Many Nebraska counties have stories of bitter rivalries over the location of the county seat. And not all towns that started out as the county seat were able to remain so. After Hemingford lost a county-wide vote, Alliance residents didn't mess around. They came to get the county records...and the courthouse too! They hauled the building twenty miles with a little help from the Burlington Railroad."  

If you've not visited the Nebraska History website, you're missing a good chunk of history.  You'll find them at:  history.nebraska.gov

Monday, September 13, 2021

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Another Dawes County Pioneer: Michael Brennan

Editor's Note:  The biography and photos included in this story  were derived from the illustrated Compendium of History, Reminiscence and Biography of Western Nebraska, a wonderful publication for families, historians and the general public.  It was produced in 1909 by the Alden Publishing Company of Chicago.  
-- Larry Miller

MICHAEL BRENNAN, a farmer of ability and progressiveness, resides in section 12, township 31, range 48, and is one of the leading old settlers and respected citizens of Dawes county. He has watched the growth of that section from its early development, succeeded in building up a good home and farm, and may be classed among the self-made men of his locality. He is now well-to-do and enjoys a pleasant home and peaceful surroundings.

Mr. Brennan was born in Carbon county, Pennsylvania, in 1845. He is of Irish descent, his father and mother both having been born in Ireland, coming to this country when young people and settling in Pennsylvania, where their family of children grew up, the father working in the coal mines for many years in that section. Our subject was also employed in the mines when but a young lad, and at the breaking out of the Civil war he enlisted in the Third Pennsylvania Cavalry, and served for one year, taking part in many campaigns and battles,

After the war he returned to his home county and remained there for some time, then started west with his family, locating in Boone county, Iowa, and later in Green county, spending two years in the coal mines there.

Mr. Brennan first came to Dawes county in 1885, driving all the way from Iowa with a team and covered wagon containing his family and household goods, the trip taking a month on the road.

He located on a farm ten miles from Hay Springs and sixteen miles from Chadron, and put up his first building of sod and logs, in which the family lived for quite a time. Their start was very small, and they had a hard time to get along during the first few years, witnesssing the dry years when nearly everything he planted failed him. One year he sowed one hundred bushels of seed wheat, and did not even get enough back for seed. During these hard times he left home and went into Hooker county, where he worked out on a farm in order to make a living for his family, and also spent some time in Wyoming in the coal mines. However, he stuck to his farm through it all, and has now built up a good home, has improved much of the land, put up good buildings, three windmills, and has one well three hundred and twenty feet deep. 

His ranch consists of about nine quarter sections of good land, nearly all fenced, and he runs a large number of horses and cattle, and also farms one hundred and seventy-five accrues.

Mr. Brennan was married while still living in Pennsylvania, in 1870, to Miss Mary Walsh. Her father, James Walsh, was born in Ireland, and worked as a coal miner in Pennsylvania, and in his later years farmed there for many years. He married Elizabeth Hoben, a native of Pennsylvania, and Mrs. Brennan was born January 10, 1855, and reared in that state. She is a good, kind-hearted lady, full of jolly good cheer and hearty sympathy with any one in distress. No one is ever turned away hungry from her door. 

Twelve children came to bless the union of our subject and his wife, namely: Mart, James, Charles, Lizzie, John, William, Thomas, Fred, Terry and Joe. Alice and Maggie, both deceased, the former being killed by a cow on the farm; the latter dying in infancy.


Editor's Note:

Mr. Brennan lived for another 12 years before his death in 1921.  His obituary (shown below) appeared in the Chadron Chronicle on December 15, 1921. 

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Gilbert "Gib" Wilson (1931-2021)

Gilbert "Gib" Hansen Wilson, 90, of Spearfish, died from COVID-19 Monday, August 30, 2021, at Fort Meade VA Medical Center in Sturgis, SD.

Gib was born July 16, 1931 in Lincoln, Nebraska, the son of Curtis and Naomi (Gilbert) Wilson.  In 1942, the family moved to Chadron where he graduated from Chadron Prep in 1949.  He attended Chadron State College for three years.  In October 1952 he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and entered the Aviation Cadet program.  He graduated in November 1953 with his wings and a commission as a 2nd Lt.  He married Delores "Dee" Lind on November 21, 1953.   They had met at Chadron State College.  They moved to Las Vegas where he attended gunnery school at Nellis AFB before a tour of duty in Korea and Japan.  He was assigned to the 336th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Kimpo, Korea, where he flew the F-86.  Upon returning to the States, he was assigned to the 1st Fighter Day Squadron at George AFB at Victorville, California, where he flew the F-100.  He and Dee lived in Adelanto, which was near the base.

Upon his release from active duty in November 1956, they returned to Chadron where he finished his BS degree in Math and Physics in 1958.  He was awarded a teaching assistantship in the Math department at the University of Wyoming, where he received his MS degree in 1960.  In his 31 years of teaching Math, he held faculty positions at Western Wyoming College, North Idaho Junior College, University of Idaho, and Blue Mountain Community College.  He finished his teaching career at Central Wyoming College at Riverton, where he attained the rank of Professor and was awarded the title of Emeritus when he retired in 1991.

Gib and Dee lived on a small farm near Riverton for 17 years.  In 1994 they moved to Sundance, Wyoming.  He and Dee ran a cow/calf operation for several years, then sold the cattle so they could travel.  He was a member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the Mathematical Association of America, Life member of the National Rifle Association, and the F-86 Sabre Pilots Association.  He served on the Board of Directors of Crook County Senior Services for nine years and the BLM Resource Advisory Committee for three.  He enjoyed hunting, reloading, fishing, camping, and traveling.

He was preceded in death by his wife Dee, his parents, and his brother Larman.  He is survived by three daughters, Judy Neal of Casper, Wyoming, Linda Fleming of Thornton, Colorado, and Shirly Hardeman of Costa Mesa, California; his brother Douglas, four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Memorials may be made to the Crook County Senior Services or the Naomi J. Wilson Memorial Scholarship at Chadron State College.

Gib will be laid to rest at Black Hills National Cemetery on Friday, September 10, 2021.  A memorial service will be held on Saturday, September 11, 2021 at 11:00am at the Sundance United Methodist Church.  Arrangements are under the care of Fidler-Roberts & Isburg Funeral Chapel of Sundance.

Online condolences may be written at www.fidler-isburgfuneralchapels.com.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Chadron – Looking north from "C Hill" (1928-29?)

This undated photograph looking north over downtown Chadron was shared with us some 42 years ago by Eva (Cunningham) Galey.  A long-time farm wife, then teacher in Dawes County Schools, Eva had a love of learning – including history.  
The east and west wings of the Normal School "main building" (lower-right) as well as the "training building (lower-left) were built by 1926.  However, we don't see a Library building (now Mari Sandoz Heritage Center) north of the Training building.  That structure would be built in 1929.  We think this photo was taken around 1927-28.   To see this an other "Early Chadron" images, come visit our "Dawes County Gallery."